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If you’re imagining 2020 to be your best, biggest, fittest and brightest year of your life, there’s one thing you need to do before the clock strikes January 1.
No one in their right mind would consider a road trip without a destination, and no one would begin a road trip without a plan of the roads they’ll take to reach their destination.
Yet many people will begin January with bold statements of their New Year fitness goals they plan to achieve, but often there’s no mention of the route they’ll take to get there and the daily habits required to make their goals reality.
And unlike a road trip, it’s not as simple as pointing at a map and choosing from one, two or perhaps three possible routes to get you from your current location to your end destination – being fit and healthier!
Your route will be different than everyone else because you’re unique… and your road map will be filled with potholes, speed bumps and detours in the form of your thoughts, emotions, environment, work commitments, relationship, family and friends commitments.
The Problem with New Year Fitness Goals
Herein lies the problem with setting New Year’s Fitness goals that we can’t ignore.
It’s not the destination that’s the issue, it’s:
- Deciding on the path
- Starting on the path
- Sticking to the path
- Adjusting the path
- Staying motivated and avoiding distractions on the path
Before you decide on the path, solidify your goal in a short, direct statement.
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Achieving New Year’s Fitness Goals for Beginners
#1: Deciding On The Path
Once you’ve set your New Year fitness goal (“the path”) it’s time to work backward to create the plan (road map) of how you’ll actually achieve the goal.
This is best written in the form of daily habits that are easily achievable, especially in the beginning. Deliberately set up ‘baby steps’ to start with so that they’re ridiculously easy to achieve.
Results create belief. Even if the results are minor, they still create belief. And belief is what you want the entire way through to ensure you achieve your goal.
- Run 5 times p/wk for a minimum of 10 minutes (Mon – Fri)
- My Baby Steps Are: Start by running for 1 minute, 2 mins, then 3 mins, then 5 mins etc.
#2: Start On The Path
“The tortoise wins the race”.
When you start on the path to your New Year fitness goal, start slow. As mentioned above… take baby steps.
If you try to run 2 miles on your first day of running, not only are you unlikely to succeed, you could create too much pain, mentally and physical that you just give up because it’s too painful to continue.
For example, shortly after the severe stress and anxiety-related panic attack I suffered in 2006, I started running by just doing 1 lap of a soccer field.
- I was absolutely wasted after just 1 lap.
- The next day I did 2 laps.
- The day after, 3 laps.
And so it went from there until I was consistently running 3 miles, 5 times per week.
At that time I started work at 7 am, so I would wake up a 4 am and be out running by 4:15 am. None of it would be possible if I didn’t start with baby steps of doing 1 lap of the soccer field.
Set Baby Steps for Your New Year Fitness Goal
What are 3 baby steps you can start on the 1st of January? And what habits are needed to support your baby steps?
With your running goal, put your running shoes, socks, shorts, and shirt/top all together in the same place each night in preparation for your morning run. This easy habit will support your baby step by creating one less roadblock to getting up, getting dressed and getting out for a quick run first thing in the morning.
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If you have to spend 5 minutes walking around the house collecting your shoes, clean socks, shorts and shirt/top in the morning, this minor hassle could be enough for you to think “Not today”, “I don’t have clean socks”.
The lazy part in all of us is looking for ‘outs’. Don’t give it any!
Brushing your teeth and showering is automatic. And this is how you want to have your goals achieved… automatically.
#3: Sticking To The Path
Sticking to the path is the part of setting and achieving New Year fitness goals that most people struggle with.
But this is why I mentioned above that you need to start with baby steps, make it a daily habit and make it achievable so that it’s automatic.
Sticking to the path can be as easy as picturing in your mind the end result. When it comes time to wake up and go for a run, don’t picture anything to do with preparing or doing the run! You should only ever focus on the end.
Ie… How good you’ll feel when it’s done, when the endorphins are running through your body, and you feeling proud of yourself for doing it. Only ever picture these ‘end results’, and never picture the preparation and the running itself. This is THE key to following through.
Imagine Yourself Achieving Your Fitness Goal Daily
If you’ve set the right foundation and are doing daily baby steps towards your goal, the end result is easier to imagine and more believable to achieve.
If you’ve stopped the daily baby steps for a month, picturing the end goal being achieved will be more difficult.
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Therefore, sticking to the path is as simple as sticking to the daily baby steps you set up. If your daily habit takes 2 minutes (eg. Brushing teeth), you’re more likely to continue with it.
By the time your New Year fitness goal starts taking up 30 minutes of your day, you’ll have positive associations, belief, and feelings built up about the goal, and therefore you’re more likely to stick to the path.
Make Your Goal Visual
Making your goal visual is a great initiator, motivator, and reminder of what you’re aiming for. Some call it a ‘vision board’, where you have magazine cut-outs of the things you want, and you spend time focusing on the images each day.
But imagining or visualizing your goals coming true is only 20% of the equation. The other 80% comes from action… daily action.
You wouldn’t have good teeth if you only brushed them twice a week. Daily action gets the results.
#4: Adjusting To The Path
What if your goal changes? Or what if your daily habits aren’t getting you closer to achieving your New Year fitness goal?
“My Goal Has Changed”
Our priorities change over time, that’s natural. So, if you’re on the path and you’re not ‘feeling it’ anymore in relation to your goal, it’s time to adjust it.
Revisit step 1 of this article and write down the daily habits necessary to make this new goal a reality by your specified time frame.
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Then start tomorrow on your new path. No mess, no fuss.
“My Daily Habits Won’t Get Me To My Goal”
This ‘challenge’ (not ‘problem’) is even easier to solve. If you’ve been keeping up with your daily habits to date, increasing them by 25% will logically speed up your results.
If you’re bumping up against time constraints, it’s time to decide on your ‘real’ priority(s). Is your goal more important than watching TV? Is your goal more important than social media?
Prioritize your priority!
How will you feel if your goal isn’t achieved?
If you’ll feel like crap, it’s obviously important that you make it a priority.
Will you feel like crap if you miss out on TV time or social media time? Unlikely.
Your priorities are indicated by your feelings… when they’re not prioritized! If you don’t take action on your priorities, you get a feeling of guilt. Such feelings are just guideposts, to point you back to the path you set for yourself. Don’t beat yourself up about it; just get back on the path.
If your job has changed, or your relationship status, or your living circumstances, this can influence the achievement of your goal… if you allow it to.
Your mind will play tricks on you.
It’s looking for ways to conserve energy. Implementing new habits and sticking to them requires energy. So any opportunity for your mind to conserve energy by ‘doing less’, your mind will take, or at least attempt to take the opportunity.
You HAVE TO fight this feeling!
Don’t let your energy-conserving brain override your goals, desires, wishes, and dreams!
Fight nature, fight this default ‘wiring’ that we’re all genetically predisposed to. Rise above the lazy brain… your life is too important to let the lazy brain win!
External factors are just excuses in the making.
Instead of using external factors as excuses to not follow through, use external factors as excuses to continue!
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“BECAUSE I changed my job, BECAUSE my relationship ended, BECAUSE I moved house/moved cities… THIS IS THE REASON I’m going to achieve my goal!”
#5: Staying Motivated When The Path Doesn’t Seem Clear
We all have moments of doubt, it’s natural.
When we set New Year fitness goals, it’s natural to have doubts that we can achieve them. Accept that doubts are part of the journey, then keep moving forward.
If there was one overriding key to life, it would be to keep moving forward WITH a positive, optimistic attitude.
Life will continue to send you tests for as long as your heart is beating. Embrace these as part of your life and grow from them. You’ve passed plenty of tests in your life so far; why not add another one or two to the list?
Self-motivation to keep moving forward is just a matter of focus.
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Imagine you’re driving your car and you can see your destination just 1 mile away. Between where you are now and your destination are billboards and exits that draw your attention.
If you keep looking at them, your focus will shift onto these distractions, rather than on your end destination.
These billboards can be quite enticing with offers of food, shopping discounts, events to attend, attractive men/women, new cars, and other shiny objects.
The more attention you give to these billboards, the less attention is on your end destination. And naturally, your motivation can start to be affected, particularly if you take an exit.
Motivation is affected by focus and attention. Re-enforce your end destination with visual aids such as a vision board.
Or use a habit tracker to keep you stay focused on daily progress.
Get Your Printable Habit Trackers
Ready to acheive your new year fitness goal or get a head start? Sign up below to get your printable habit tracker templates, with spreads for 30 and 31 days. Let’s start a habit and make it stick!
The Destination Is A Milestone…The Journey Never Ends
Even when you achieve your New Year fitness goal, it’s crucial that you see this as just a milestone and not the end of the road.
Life will be filled with challenges. And the one thing that will keep you motivated is the presence of hope for the future.
And hope comes from your mental images and goals you put out in your future.
So set monthly fitness goals and at least one big New Year fitness goal to keep motivated, to stay on the path to self-improvement and build hope into your future.
Life rocks… but it requires YOUR input and action to make it so.
A passive life is a life not-well-lived. Be active, be a believer, be a doer… you’ve only got one life. Crush your goals and make this New Year your best year yet.
What’s your New Year fitness goal?
More About Guest Contributor
Matt Adams is a work-stress and anxiety survivor, anxiety-hacker, health and fitness blogger, and co-founder of Exercises.com.au – Australia’s premier exercise and fitness website. After a severe stress-related panic attack at age 27 and experiencing dozens of daily heart palpitations and lightening-shock feelings in his heart for 3 months after, Matt discovered a mind technique that changed his life forever. Matt now lives in Italy and is currently writing a book about his journey, experiences, and healing from stress and anxiety.